The Car Whisperer
Stephen Klein of Tint World
I am an unabashed aficionado of beater cars. My current one is a 2005 Pontiac Vibe. It’s full of dents and scratches with one window that won’t go down and one that won’t go up. My car is decidedly an ugly and uncomfortable ride, but it runs perfectly.
No one is ever interested in stealing it or breaking into it, and if an enemy keyed it, my car would laugh at the effort. The Vibe gets me from Point A to Point B and has never been a problem.
That is until, in a pouring rainstorm, I pulled up to Tint World on Jefferson Hwy. As I put black plastic over the window that doesn’t go up, I certainly wished I were exiting a better-kept car. Chagrined and drenched, I entered to interview well-known car restorer and owner of Louisiana’s only Tint World, Stephen Klein.
Whether it’s a 1957 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster or 2005 Pontiac Vibe, Klein treats all cars with respect. A car is decidedly a big expense. One school of thought holds that all your automotive expenses — gas, insurance, car payments — is about 20 percent of your pretax monthly income. So it makes sense to take care of and have pride in your vehicle.
Klein suggests the best thing to extend the life and look of your vehicle is to keep it out of the weather.
“When you’re not driving, keep your car in a garage,” he says. “If you can, a climate control garage is the best. The humidity in Louisiana is hard on a car and rust is also a big problem here.”
When he was barely a teenager, Klein began working on antique cars with his grandfather, a machinist of 40 years. Restoring cars even helped fund his college education, where he earned a degree in marketing.
His hobby turned into a successful career when he opened and operated an antique and classic restoration shop in Baton Rouge for seven years, but he shut down the shop after his father became ill. Klein moved to New Orleans where he then reopened.
“Clients often want me to add stereos or alarms,” Klein said. “I also worked with other auto accessories. There’s a huge demand for it and that’s why I knew Tint World would be a good fit.”
His Tint World Automotive Styling Center franchise provides such things as the sales and installation of auto accessories, mobile electronics, audio video equipment, security systems, custom wheels and tire packages, window tinting, vehicle wraps, paint protection films, detailing services, maintenance and repair services.
He also wanted to add something to his hot rod and classic restoration business in New Orleans that would run on its own, so he could concentrate on what he loves most — restoring cars. He owns a 1951 Mercury hot rod.
“I like all cars,” he says. “I have no favorites; they’re all my passion.”
Driving home from the interview, I got a strong feeling that my Vibe was wishing I’d left it with Stephen.
Tint World of New Orleans
5821 Jefferson Highway, Building A.